Last Reviewed : 12/24/2020

Botulism is a rare and potentially fatal illness caused by a toxin, produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The disease begins with weakness, trouble seeing, feeling tired, and trouble speaking. This may then be followed by weakness of the arms, chest muscles, and legs. The disease does not usually affect consciousness or cause a fever.

Botulism can be spread several different ways. The bacterial spores which cause it are common in both soil and water. They produce the botulinum toxin when exposed to low oxygen levels and certain temperatures. Foodborne botulism happens when food containing the toxin is eaten. Infant botulism happens when the bacteria develops in the intestines and releases the toxin. This typically only occurs in children less than six months old, as protective mechanisms develop after that time. Wound botulism is found most often among those who inject street drugs. In this situation, spores enter a wound, and in the absence of oxygen, release the toxin. It is not passed directly between people. The diagnosis is confirmed by finding the toxin or bacteria in the person in question.

Prevention is primarily by proper food preparation. The toxin, though not the organism, is destroyed by heating it to more than 85 °C (185 °F) for longer than 5 minutes. Honey can contain the organism, and for this reason, honey should not be fed to children under 12 months. Treatment is with an antitoxin. In those who lose their ability to breathe on their own, mechanical ventilation may be necessary for months. Antibiotics may be used for wound botulism. Death occurs in 5 to 10% of people. Botulism can affect many other animals. The word is from Latin, botulus, meaning sausage.


We researched this topic for you and found the following best online resources. They are categorized into basic, advanced, and research level based on the extent of information you need. You will be taken to the respective websites by pressing on the links below.


Basic information: mayoclinic botulisms medline plus botulism cdc botulism health line botulism kids health botulism nhs uk botulism web md botulism food borne illness botulism better health botulism healthy children botulism health link bc home canning - how to avoid botulism botulism merck manuals botulism university of maryland medical center botulism newyork times botulism life in the fast lane botulism every day health what is botulism?


Advanced information: who botulism medscape botulism food safety botulism medicine net botulism medical news today what is botulism (botulinus intoxication)? What causes botulism? patient botulism botulism infant botulism, nadine cox, m.d., and randy hinkle, d.o., mount carmel medical center, columbus, ohio am fam physician. 2002 apr 1;65(7):1388-1393. family practise note book botulism botulism american association of neuromuscular & electrodiagnostic medicine botulism national organisation of rare diseases botulism


Research: : kumaran d, rawat r, ahmed sa, swaminathan s (2008) substrate binding mode and its implication on drug design for botulinum neurotoxin a. Plos pathog 4(9): e1000165. Doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000165

Vahdani p, abbasi f, mojarad ma, velayati aa, boloorsaz mr, musavipour f, vahdani g. A six month-old girl with botulism due to honey ingestion. Indian j pathol microbiol [serial online] 2009 [cited 2016 nov 24];52:592. Available from: : scotcher mc, cheng lw, stanker lh (2010) detection of botulinum neurotoxin serotype b at sub mouse ld50 levels by a sandwich immunoassay and its application to toxin detection in milk. Plos one 5(6): e11047. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011047 skarin h, segerman b (2014) plasmidome interchange between clostridium botulinum, clostridium novyi and clostridium haemolyticum converts strains of independent lineages into distinctly different pathogens. Plos one 9(9): e107777. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107777 original research article front. Cell. Neurosci., 23 april 2015 | accelerated intoxication of gabaergic synapses by botulinum neurotoxin a disinhibits stem cell-derived neuron networks prior to network silencing by phillip h. Beske et al., yukako fujinaga, “interaction of botulinum toxin with the epithelial barrier,” journal of biomedicine and biotechnology, vol. 2010, article id 974943, 9 pages, 2010. Doi:10.1155/2010/974943 smith tj, hill kk, foley bt, detter jc, munk ac, et al (2007) analysis of the neurotoxin complex genes in clostridium botulinum a1-a4 and b1 strains: bont/a3, /ba4 and /b1 clusters are located within plasmids. Plos one 2(12): e1271. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001271

Tirado-sanchez a, ponce-olivera rm. Botulism-like syndrome without cholinergic involvement: a case report and two recommendations to avoid it. Indian j dermatol [serial online] 2007 [cited 2016 nov 24];52:163-4. Available from: mini review article front. Microbiol., 11 june 2014 | botulism outbreaks in natural environments – an update by mari espelund et al., restani l, giribaldi f, manich m, bercsenyi k, menendez g, et al. (2012) botulinum neurotoxins a and e undergo retrograde axonal transport in primary motor neurons. Plos pathog 8(12): e1003087. Doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003087 : mazuet c, dano j, popoff mr, cre´minon c, volland h (2010) characterization of botulinum neurotoxin type a neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and influence of their half-lives on therapeutic activity. Plos one 5(8): e12416. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012416


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